Thursday, June 28, 2007

Where's The Fence?

I found this while researching who was voting for the immigration bill in Congress, and thought you might get a chuckle given the current state of affairs on our border security.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

VA's New Traffic ‘Civil Remedial Fees’ Will Destroy Many Families' Finances and Fill Special Interests' Pockets, not Potholes!

Are you a "Dangerous Driver"- are you SURE you're not? You must not have read the new list of civil offenses that Gov. Kaine just signed into law. Chances are- a few of your typical actions ARE on the list.

Are you ready to feel the hand of Government molest your sense of right and wrong while it pinches our wallets and pocketbooks with the subtlety of Rosie O'Donnell at, well– anywhere?

"No!", you say? Well all you have to do is drive "perfectly" and you won't lose your driver's license or THOUSANDS of dollars for doing things you likely do every day, like park in the street to get your mail, or slightly roll through a stop sign, maybe exceed the speed limit on I-95 with hundreds of thousands of other commuters each day.

Did you think about what your passengers are watching on the ceiling mounted DVD player and whether it could be a crime? It easily could be now thanks to:

Ask yourself who you've seen driving more recklessly on our primary roads- Virginians or out-of-state drivers.

Virginians are far from perfect, but this code serves to not just penalize Virginians exclusively, but also will be enacted in a stealthy manner such that there is zero promotion of it and zero tolerance allowed by the courts even if they wanted to.

This puts the pressure on deputies and local law enforcement policies to decide whether to utterly destroy a driver's future and finances in many cases, or or look the other way and ignore, or make case-by-case judgement calls (also known as favoritism) as to write someone up for these offenses– most of which a person wouldn't willfully commit had they understood the ramifications!

Thanks partly to one RHINO (Republican In Name Only), Del. Steve Landes, our government just got a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more destructive in some cases.

I'm all for "throwing the book" at a willful offender of laws that harm others or take away our freedoms, no matter how small, but this is yet another example of how our government is reaching too far, too fast and using a shotgun to kill a fly.

I'll bet a year from now you'll know someone personally who was affected by these new laws if they are enforced to their letter, and you won't hear any happy stories or "lessons learned", but instead resentful of law enforcement officers just doing their jobs and feelings of despise toward our legal system and even more sentiments of distrust in our elected leaders for making such divisive and destructive laws against its own citizens.

IF ONLY WE WERE THIS TOUGH ON ILLEGAL ALIENS... but they too are exempt!

Are the schools going to adapt their curriculum to teach this new form of defensive driving and explain all the rules on top of rules on top of penalties for making driving mistakes in an imperfect driving environment?

“The General Assembly dubbed the law the 'Dangerous Driver Law,' but it is much more far reaching than that,” said Tommy Moore, clerk of the Botetourt Circuit Court. It will keep the clerk's office busy collecting the first of three annual civil fee payments from drivers convicted of any number of traffic violations. The civil fees will be on top of traffic fines that courts impose, and are part of the new financial package to help fund Virginia's beleaguered highway department.

For instance, an offender charged and convicted of reckless driving for going 20 mph over the speed limit (not necessarily driving in a reckless manner) would pay the traffic fines and court costs, plus be accessed a $1,000 civil fee. One-third of the civil fee would have to be paid the day of the conviction. The rest would be paid in two equal installments over the next two years.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for collecting the final two payments. The new system is designed to spread the fees into three yearly payments. The fees could reach into the hundreds or thousands of dollars for some traffic offenders.

The idea, according to published a report, is “Drive Safe and Save Money.” “We felt it would be a good thing to do for public safety and a unique way to raise more funding,” said Del. Steve Landes, (R-Weyers Cave,) who co-sponsored the legislation this past winter.

The civil fees will go into a newly created special transportation fund to pay for road construction. Local (New River Valley) elected officials didn't want to go on the record commenting on this way of raising funds for transportation in the state, but privately several said it was a way of keeping the Republican-controlled General Assembly from having to implement a new tax or raise taxes for the troubled transportation system.

Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, signed the bill into law. Instead of direct taxes to fund transportation, some are calling the civil penalties “hidden fees.” They range from $250 to $3,000, depending on the traffic violation, and will be assessed on a variety of misdemeanor traffic violations including being a passenger in a hit and run or the failure to give a proper signal.

Moore provided a print out of violations that he received at the circuit court clerks conference on June 4 and 5. The printout filled five pages. Many of the civil fees do address alcohol as was the intent of the “Dangerous Driver Law” when it originated, but the fees also may be accessed for such daily traffic violations as rolling through a stop sign (a fee of $300), or impeding traffic--a charge that's possible when stopping in front of your mailbox to get the mail. The civil fee alone for a conviction on the latter is $300. Play an R or X rated movie on the van DVD player and if it is seen by someone in another vehicle, a driver can be charged and fined with having an obscene video image seen from outside the car. The civil fee is $300.

The new law takes effect July 1, 2007. Botetourt County Commonwealth's Attorney Joel Branscom feels this will be hitting some folks who can least afford the extra fees. If a convicted traffic offender does not pay the fees for whatever reason, the person's driver's license is revoked.

The fees will be hitting many of those who can least afford to lose a driver's permit, and the fallout could keep people from being able to work or pay child support, and that is already a part of the downward spiral many traffic offenders are already facing, said both Branscom and Moore, who see dire effects with the new set of civil fees. “Judges have no leeway with the new law,” said Branscom. which means they cannot reduce or suspend the civil fees.

According to Moore, after the court collects the first civil fee installment, the DMV collects the next two yearly installments and will use a collection agency to retrieve those final two payments. That adds a layer of cost in collection that will reduce the benefit to road funding. Those who have driving points on their record also will be assessed an additional $175 per point in civil fees for their previous record up to $700 if convicted of a new violation.

Drivers from out of state will not be penalized by the civil system of fees because “the state can not go beyond its borders to collect the (civil) fees,” said Moore. “These fees are for Virginia residents and those with a permit listing a Virginia address.”

July 1 looms in two weeks and the clerk's offices around the state are doing what they can to prepare for the collection of the first round of civil fees, which will bring a whole new aspect to traffic court in Virginia.

source: Kathy Benson, our

Monday, June 11, 2007

Growth Driving New Spotsy Zip Code

Date published: 6/11/2007
by Rebecca Blatt/ The Free Lance-Star

About 6,700 Spotsylvania businesses and residents will receive a new ZIP code on July 1, 2007 Thousands of Spotsylvania County residents and businesses will soon find themselves writing new return addresses on outgoing mail.

The boundaries for the 22553 ZIP-code area have been redrawn and about 6,700 addresses have been reassigned to a new ZIP code--22551--by the U.S. Postal Service. The change is effective July 1.

The reassigned addresses will retain the 4-digit ZIP-code extensions previously assigned to them, and the Postal Service will deliver mail addressed to the old ZIP code for at least a year.

For about a year after that, mail will likely arrive at the correct destination but with some delay, said Allie Page, manager of of the Postal Service's Address Management Systems for the Richmond District, which includes Spotsylvania County.

"We're still going to be able to read it, code it like it should be and get it out to them," Page said. "I try to explain that this is kind of the beginning phase of the conversion."

Page said the decision to add the new ZIP code came primarily because of growth projected by the Spotsylvania County Planning Department.

It will prevent the Postal Service from reaching its limit on the number of available four-digit extensions in 22553, which could happen because of the county's rapid growth.

About 1.5 percent, or about 100, of the addresses belong to businesses, but several of those involved are facilities in the Spotsylvania County School District.

Sara Branner, Spotsylvania County Schools director of public information, said that about six schools fall in the affected area.

She explained that the district's information systems team will revise software to write the new ZIP code on purchase orders and mailings. The district will also track which students have received new ZIP codes with the student information cards it collects each fall.

"I don't think it's going to be a major ordeal," she said.

But others are concerned.

Page has received about 30 phone calls about the issue since the Postal Service notified residents and businesses recently.

Dan Nickelson, a healthcare consultant whose home lies in the new ZIP code, said he accepts the change.

But Nickelson added that he anticipates short-term obstacles.

"It's going to be pretty much of a mess because we have mail ranging from insurance to retirement funds to bills and personal letters, and we have to make sure everyone gets notified of the ZIP code change and picks it up," he said. "As you know, that won't happen."

Edward Gillis, a retired vice president of PH Glatfelter Co., who also lives in the new ZIP-code area, said he is trying to keep the inconvenience in perspective.

"I had kidney cancer a year ago, so having a new ZIP code isn't that bad," he said.

Link HERE for more information regarding Spotsylvania County's new zip code 22551

Why Not Adopt A Classroom?

Since Chairman of the School Board in Stafford County, Robert Belman, first introduced the Adopt-A-Classroom program to Stafford Public Schools, classroom adoptions continue to flourish and are up this year with a total of 204 adoptions and 1,022 classrooms registered. Student enrollment is only slightly higher than Spotsylvania with 26,521 on September 30, 2006.

This increase is realized since last year's great showing of 169 total adoptions for the 2005-06 school year and 170 total adoptions for the 2004-05 school year. Total annual donations as of March 14, 2007 equal $95,176, with a cumulative collection of $225,000 since inception! At this level of contribution, every single Stafford County student has received some kind of direct benefit from this generosity.

Spotsylvania County has only 58 classrooms registered and only FOUR adoptions since 1998 totaling only $7,050 with student enrollment now at 24,229 as of September 30, 2006. Some teachers know nothing of the program and how easy it is to register their class to receive funds, while others speak of unconfirmed stories of being "told" to not participate by management.

One may argue as Republicans that we donate to the classroom every time we pay our increasing property taxes– and rightfully so with an average of 9% annual budget increases for a decade now while new student enrollment is down to a trickle, but the best part about this program is that 100% of the donated funds goes into the classroom and is completely voluntary.

While businesses of all sizes are typically the donors of such programs, there's no stopping a philanthropic individual from participating at a common $500 per year baseline donation for a whole class to be named in your honor.

Nationally speaking, teachers give an average of $1,200 of their personal money toward school supplies each year so the children do not go without. Coupled with parents who can afford the growing school supply list, and often over-buy so their child can share extras with his or her friends, this is saying something about the gap which remains after privately-funded supplies to be consumed added to the the publicly funded supplies still needs filling.

When teachers have to dip in to their own pockets after both those sources are exhausted, it's time for others to step up lest we cut even more programs out of the curriculum just to save on crayons and glue.

If Stafford can collect a quarter-million dollars in donations from willing businesses, generous individuals and teachers willing to participate in this great program by a simple act of a single School Board member's initiative; it remains a wonder to me why Spotsylvania leadership lags so far behind.

With such a shining example of how things could be done right across the river– can we do better for our county's kids?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Welcome to the On The Spot Blog!

This Blog was created especially for YOU- The Spotsylvania, VA Republican. If you are a member of the committee and wish to contribute with articles, just email the webmaster and request access! Othewise, you are welcome to comment on any story you read here as an anonymous user or using your username which you may have already created with other blogs.

There are several races for State Senate, Supervisor and School Board coming up this November 6th, as well as, several constitutional offices. Please take the time to become involved in these races and help the GOP values of smaller government and fiscal accountability shine through for the betterment of our county.

We hope now that you've visited once, that you'll visit often!

Thank you for checking out our Spotsylvania County Republican Committee Blog "On The Spot".